Friday, July 26, 2013

Fiona Apple - "Hot Knife"

Maybe it's just human nature, but one of the stupider things I do sometimes is pick a person to "support" when celebrity couples break up. When Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman split, I was immediately on her side. (Why? I guess because she seemed like the aggrieved party. I had no facts to back that up.) When Paul Thomas Anderson and Fiona Apple called it quits years ago, I confess I was probably pro-Fiona. This was in part because her first album after the split, Extraordinary Machine, was flat-out terrific: I assumed (and I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking this way) that the kiss-off songs were about him.

Since they presumably still run in the same circles, I was curious if they ever bumped into each other and what that was like. Why I spend a single moment thinking about such things is a subject for another day, but I will say that -- again, for stupid reasons -- it pleased me to see her new video, "Hot Knife," which was directed by Anderson. It's absolutely striking -- one of the best distillations of a song's particular greatness in purely visual terms. (It boils down to the slow introduction of the song's spare elements, including those interwoven vocals.) Anderson's fans will be hard-pressed to explain how the video plays into his filmic oeuvre, but you could argue that, like with There Will Be Blood and The Master, it focuses on a dangerously driven main character. But that's a stretch -- although it is less dumb than rooting for one person over another in celebrity breakups.